School issue deferred by Planning & Zoning Board
Last night, the City Planning staff recommended to the Planning and Zoning Board that the issue of the Montessori school planned for 1621 S. Bayshore Drive be studied further. It will come before the board on Wednesday, July 18.
Between South Grove and North Grove, along Main Highway and S. Bayshore Drive, there are already about six school zones and the neighbors are concerned about another school joining the lineup. But more importantly, the flavor of the neighborhood. Neighbors don't feel that a school belongs in the historic neighborhood where the school will bring commercial interests to the residential area.
Joan Rodriquez, who is owns the school, says there is a long waiting list. This of course worries neighbors.
The main issue is zoning. Is this a case of special "spot zoning" or is the location already allowed? Joan tells me that a variance is not being requested. She says that a variance is sought when an applicant cannot meet the code requirements. Joan's application was reviewed by the Zoning Department prior to submittal and it was found to meet code requirements.
According to Joan, "This application seeks an 'Exception.' An Exception or Warrant is required for schools in most transects/districts in the City in order to ensure that the design and configuration are appropriate, and that potential impacts are addressed and mitigated. In other words, it meets code requirements but is still subject to review to ensure that it is designed and operated appropriately.
I see it like this: If it is allowed under current zoning laws, then there is nothing that the neighbors can do. I also wonder why someone would want to intrude on an area where the neighbors don't want them. It sort of has a bad omen to it, why start off on the wrong foot and negative vibe with neighbors? What's the point when there are probably hundreds of other locations for the school?
Joan's response: "I am not doing it to upset the neighbors, I want to put the school in Coconut Grove because there is a need for it. Many of our current students' parents live in the Grove, and you know there are many more children who need good schools - all the better when it is near their homes. A school is not a commercial use, and if you look around the County and the entire country, schools are located in residential areas everywhere and become an intimate part of their community fabric."
She went on to say, "I understand that some neighbors are objecting, but you have others who are supportive and very happy to see the school there. In an attempt to balance the prerogatives of both, provide solid educational programming, and be a good neighbor, I have intentionally limited the enrollment and physical size of the school, as well ensuring that the bulk of the existing features of the property, including the historic home and the ample tree resources are preserved. That's what the Grove is all about."
Here is a PDF of the Miami Zoning Code, where I am told by Joan that on page 110, which is a chart, it shows that the school is permitted. It takes a bit of time to open and is hard to navigate. And I don't quite understand the chart.
Comments are open, but only the civil ones will be posted. The ones calling people anti-education or children haters or anti-business are nonsense and stupid and won't be published. Let's have an intelligent conversation or none at all. Thanks.
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